It's been ages (or at least 2 months) since I last did a Tuesday Tales. I've set the 2nd Tuesday after IWSG aside for Character Q&As, short stories, and conversations with my characters. This time around, I will share the new first 350 words of my manuscript Fractured Princess, which has had a big change to establish Ghuli's wants and needs. I hadn't really delved into them before, but I'm participating in a critique group over at Agent Query Connect, and they've really helped me think deeper about making Ghuli more active. It's a fun opening. Most drafts, Ghuli is just playing in the trees, but this time, she's doing something a little more serious.
So, without further ado, here we go.
I usually went to the Forest of Weeping Willows whenever I needed a moment of peace. Space would have also been nice. My adopted brother and Watchman Cyan only stood a couple hundred yards away on the Eastern Road, pretending to give me time to myself before we went to the market. Apparently, my turning seventeen meant nothing to him. I was old enough to know how far away from the manor to go, which engine sounds to listen for. I wasn’t going to let one of the Contagion catch me off guard.
I shuddered at the thought.
All right. Cyan could stay.
Howbeit, if a vicious stray elk happened by, I could fight it myself. I looked down at the pages of fighting techniques on the tree stump to my right, committed the moves to memory, and focused on the three knotted ropes of willow switches in front of me. Crystal Soldiers had been known for their graceful fighting techniques. As a Crystal Bearer, something in me had to be graceful, too.
I pushed the willow ropes in different directions so they would swing back and forth. Then, I unsheathed the branch I had tucked into my sleeve, advanced on the nearest rope as it swung back towards me, and thrust at the central knot. Its leaves rustled as it bounced against my makeshift sword. I pushed it again and pivoted around the second rope swinging back at me from the right. I slashed at its back then spun around to perform what the pages called an empty fade and attack--one leap back, guard, one larger leap forward, thrust--against the third rope. I was certain Crystal Soldiers leapt higher. I could work on it.
“Ghuli,” Cyan called.
“Still here,” I called back as I kicked the rope away.
I glimpsed the first switches returning and tried the jump spin I’d studied. Several leaves fluttered off their switches with my overhand slash. As I reveled in my successful attack, the second group of switches bumped into my back. I sighed.
“And now I’m dead.”